After school and college, I went to study business at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A). B-school opened up a plethora of career choices for me, which I was really lucky to try my hand at and explore.
I worked in Investment Banking for a while, but realised early on that it wasn’t the right place for me. Plus, I needed a career where I could express my creativity much more. So I switched to marketing and pursued a career in digital marketing for four years, before taking a leap into entrepreneurship.
I come from a Maharashtrian family, and starting your own business is a little unusual in our culture. But both my parents have always encouraged me to pursue entrepreneurship and build something of my own, so here I am.
Tell us about The Invisible Crown
The Invisible Crown is a network of professional women who are learning to balance ambition with ease. Through this network, I offer various private and group coaching programs to professional women, inspiring them to cultivate well-rounded lives, and gain better work-life balance.
My recently launched signature program, ‘Become a lady of leisure’ helps cultivate a lifestyle of slowing down, and making every single day amazing. It combines time-tested coaching techniques with extraordinary everyday experiences to really transform the way a woman shows up in the world.
The network launched only in August 2015, but is growing way faster than I had expected, since the message and the unique approach to coaching is resonating very well with women across the world.
Why did you set up the company?
Every day, I meet so many highly talented, gorgeous women who have lost their sense of self while pursuing their careers. They want more time for themselves, more time for their health and their passions, more time to travel, indulge and see the world. But their weekdays are long and their to-do lists are exhausting.
It is indeed true that we Indian women are some of the most stressed women in the world. We want to be the perfect wives, the perfect moms, the perfect employees. Superwomen, to say the least.
There’s a lot we can learn from other cultures which enjoy much more balanced lives. I especially love the French culture, and my programs are highly influenced by the way the
French women carry themselves in the world. They have a way with pleasure – they know how to put themselves first, prioritise themselves without guilt and take care of themselves. And that is something many Indian women would love to imbibe.
I love to plan things to the last detail, especially at work. But once you are an entrepreneur, all plans go out the window! Nowadays, I start my week with a certain expectation and find myself somewhere entirely different at the end. I am still getting used to this uncertainty. Learning to make peace with trial and error has been the hardest part for me.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Oh there have been many! But the changes I see while working with my clients are definitely the best part.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My grandma, for sure. She is a complete rockstar, and was in fact the first one to congratulate me on quitting my job. She is 75 today, supremely fit and still runs her own business!
What advice do you have for women starting out on their own?
Don’t do it because you hate your day job. I know so many people who dream of starting their own venture simply because they think it’s an easier way out. They have a tiff with their bosses and think – I wish I was my own boss.
However, that’s definitely not the reason you should start out on your own. The truth is, once you are an entrepreneur, you live, breathe and dream about your business 24×7. It takes over your entire life. If there is something that excites you that much, great. If there isn’t, wait it out.
What does the future hold for you?
Oh, the future looks glorious right now! Ideas flow through my head night and day, and I have to hold back and realise I can’t do everything at once.
I am launching two new programs very soon at the network. Plus, I love to travel and explore new places, and so do many of my clients, so we are planning some really fun retreats for next year. All in all, very exciting times.
About Avni Palekar
Avni Palekar is an alumna of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), a psychology graduate and a CCA Certified Lifestyle Coach. As a work-life balance mentor for professional women, she empowers women to make their happiness a priority and celebrate themselves every day, all while pursuing ambitious career goals.
She believes every woman deserves to have it all – a meaningful career, a healthy lifestyle, beautiful relationships and time and energy to pursue her passions, and assists her clients in achieving this through her private and group programs. She is an avid traveller, an amateur baker, and a lover of all things French.